Consent of the Networked
Fig. 1. Consent of the Networked. Courtesy of Basic Books, 2012.

Rebecca MacKinnon, a Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation and co-founder of Global Voices Online has written a book titled "Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle For Internet Freedom", in which she "investigates the corrosion of civil liberties by the governments and corporations that control the digital world." Rebecca MacKinnon talked about her book on the NPR's Morning Edition. She also recently appeared on Al Jazeera's Stream, where she discussed the ACTA issue.

Publication Data

MacKinnon, Rebecca. Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle For Internet Freedom. Basic Books, 2012. ISBN: 9780465024421.


The Internet was going to liberate us, but in truth it has not. For every story about the web’s empowering role in events such as the Arab Spring, there are many more about the quiet corrosion of civil liberties by companies and governments using the same digital technologies we have come to depend upon.

Sudden changes in Facebook’s features and privacy settings have exposed identities of protestors to police in Egypt and Iran. Apple removes politically controversial apps at the behest of governments as well as for its own commercial reasons. Dozens of Western companies sell surveillance technology to dictatorships around the world. Google struggles with censorship demands from governments in a range of countries—many of them democracies—as well as mounting public concern over the vast quantities of information it collects about its users.

In Consent of the Networked, journalist and Internet policy specialist Rebecca MacKinnon argues that it is time to fight for our rights before they are sold, legislated, programmed, and engineered away. Every day, the corporate sovereigns of cyberspace make decisions that affect our physical freedom—but without our consent. Yet the traditional solution to unaccountable corporate behavior—government regulation—cannot stop the abuse of digital power on its own, and sometimes even contributes to it.

A clarion call to action, Consent of the Networked shows that it is time to stop arguing over whether the Internet empowers people, and address the urgent question of how technology should be governed to support the rights and liberties of users around the world.

Table of Contents

Introduction: After the Revolution

Part One: Disruptions

1: Consent and Sovereignty
Corporate Superpowers

2: Rise of the Digital Commons
The Technical Commons
Balance of Power

Part Two: Control 2.0

3: Networked Authoritarianism
How China’s Censorship Works
Authoritarian Deliberation
Western Fantasies Versus Reality

4: Variants and Permutations
“Constitutional” Technology
Corporate Collaboration
Divide and Rule
Digital Bonapartism

Part Three: Democracy’s Challenges

5: Eroding Accountability
WikiLeaks and Controversial Speech

6: Democratic Censorship
Intentions Versus Consequences
Saving the Children

7: Copywars
Shunning Due Process
Aiding Authoritarianism

Part Four: Sovereigns of Cyberspace

8: Corporate Censorship
Net Neutrality
Mobile Complications
Big Brother Apple

9: Do No Evil
Chinese Lessons
Flickr Fail
Buzz Bust
Privacy and Facebook

10: Facebookistan and Googledom
Double Edge
Inside the Leviathan
Google Governance

Part Five: What Is to Be Done?

11: Trust, but Verify
The Regulation Problem
Shared Value
The Global Network Initiative
Lessons from Other Industries

12: In Search of “Internet Freedom” Policy
Washington Squabbles
Goals and Methods
Democratic Discord
Civil Society Pushes Back

13: Global Internet Governance
The United Nations Problem
ICANN—Can You?

14: Building a Netizen-Centric Internet
Strengthening the Citizen Commons
Expanding the Technical Commons
Utopianism Versus Reality
Getting Political
Corporate Transparency and Netizen Participation
Personal Responsibility

About the Author

Rebecca MacKinnon works on global internet policy as a Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation. She is co-founder of Global Voices Online, a global citizen media network that amplifies online citizen voices from around the world. She is also on the board of the Committee to Protect Journalists and worked for CNN in Beijing for nine years. Recently, she was a Visiting Fellow at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy. MacKinnon is frequently interviewed by major media, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The Financial Times, National Public Radio, BBC, and other news outlets. She lives in Washington, DC.

The book can be ordered online at Amazon.